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SecAF talks Pacific airpower

by 2nd Lt Sarah Bergstein
36th Wing Public Affairs

11/21/2012 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (AFNS) -- Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley met with Team Andersen Airmen at an Airman's Call here Nov. 20.

The secretary discussed several topics of national and international interest, to include the importance of Guam in the Asia-Pacific region, restructuring the size of the Air Force, changes in the Air Force's inventory and the current state of the Air Force budget.

During his two-day trip to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, he also visited with many Airmen, thanking them and their families for their service and sacrifice.

"It's been said before, but it's still true," Donley began. "Our Airmen, along with their families, joint colleagues and other services, make countless sacrifices to serve our nation and to keep America secure. Our nation depends on you to conduct your missions and maintain vigilance, and this is a 365 day-a-year job."

Guam has been an important part of the United States for more than a century. Secretary Donley highlighted that the spotlight is focused on the region even more so now since the release of the new defense strategic guidance in January.

"The direction from this strategic guidance calls on our nation to 'focus on a broader range of challenges and opportunities, including the security and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region' as today's wars end," he said. "The guidance also makes clear that while the U.S. military will continue to contribute to security on a global basis, we will -- in necessity -- rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region."

Guam is said to play an increasingly important role as forces are realigned in the region. For the Air Force specifically, this builds on a long history of U.S. presence on Guam and in the Pacific.

The U.S. territory offers many military advantages, like its strategic value as the westernmost sovereign territory and home base to Northeast and Southeast Asia, which aids in ensuring peace and stability in the region.

The Asia-Pacific region spans more than 100 million square miles and 15 time zones. Today, about 60 percent of the Air Force's permanent forces outside the continental United States are postured in the region.

"The rebalance to the Asia-Pacific provides an opportunity for the Air Force to leverage the unique characteristics of airpower with range and speed," said Donley. "The armed forces structure rebalancing means the Air Force will invest in modernizing capabilities to project power and operate effectively in this region.

"For the past eight years Andersen has accommodated a continual presence of our nation's premier air assets," he said. "Its importance is only expected to grow, serving as a cornerstone to the new joint-training initiatives here in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands."

Secretary Donley said that Andersen AFB will continue to serve as the strategic and operational nucleus for U.S. military operations, originating from or moving through in support of training, or in building regional partnerships, humanitarian relief or other operational needs.

"The Air Force is committed to protecting critical infrastructure in this area in support of U.S. Pacific Command's strategy," he said. "Andersen (AFB) can be proud of its many achievements."

Team Andersen Airmen had the opportunity to ask Secretary Donley questions regarding personnel and budget cuts, changes in the Air Force's inventory with regards to Andersen AFB, the military buildup on Guam as well as questions concerning the quality of life of Airmen.

"We face difficult choices," Donley said, "But with our priorities in mind we can still take care of our people and modernize our systems to provide our nation with the global vigilance, reach and power it requires and our allies have come to rely on."

Donley recognized Team Andersen for its key role in providing peace and stability in the region through the continuous bomber presence and theater security packages, among other capabilities, as well as their participation in joint and coalition exercises, operations and humanitarian relief efforts.

"Our Air Force and our country need you to be great at what you do every day," he said. "You deserve to be proud of your important work here at Andersen (AFB)."

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